This cassette is a companion to Northern Harmony: Plain Tunes, Fuging Tunes and Anthems From the New England Singing School Tradition, a hardcover volume edited by three of the singers heard here: Anthony Barrand, Larry Gordon and Carole Moody Crompton. The book includes all of the music and texts of the songs recorded here, as well as extensive history and commentary on the music and its composers.
Most of this music comes from the marvelously vital community singing tradition which flourished throughout rural new England in the decades following the American Revolution. This is America's greatest choral music, featuring haunting melodies, stark, open harmonies, rhythmic counterpoint, and the fierce rhymed poetry of Isaac Watts. When the popularity of this music began to fade in New England at the beginning of the 19th century it was kept alive in the developing "shape-note" singing tradition which swept across the Southern states and which lives on there still. In the past two decades the burgeoning shape-note revival in the North has sparked new interest in these early New England songs and produced a fresh generation of composers in the style, two of whom, David Gay and Andy Christiansen, are represented here.
This recording was the product of an ad hoc but intensive and inspirational collaboration between the Bayley-Hazen Singers, a group based in Montpelier and led by Larry Gordon, and a small group of Brattleboro singers led by Dr. Tony Barrand. We came together only for one day in October, 1989, in the marvelous acoustics of Vermont College Chapel in Montpelier, Vermont. Separately we had been singing many of these songs for years, but we had never rehearsed them together before. The excitement in the room during the recording sessions is evident on the tape.
Four different combinations of voices are heard. Bayley-Hazen Singers alone perform eight pieces: Farquahar's Retreat, Jerusalem Anthem, Song of Praise, 34th Psalm, Immensity, Vermont Summer, Honor to the Hills, and Pennsylvania. An octet including Larry Gordon and Liz Thompson and six Brattleboro singers perform Harvest Hymn, Winter/Spring, The Appletree, and Wedding Hymn. A quartet of those singers recorded Amanda. The remaining six pieces were sung by all the voices combined.
The resulting variety of voicings, pitching, tempos and singing styles all speak to the immense power and honesty of this music.
released November 12, 2014
Directed by Larry Gordon and Tony Barrand
Larry Gordon, Will Gehr, John Henderson, Tom Mousin, Paul Bishop, Kathleen Moore, Judy Pransky, Shari Stolper, Merideth Wright, Lynnette Combs, Suzanne Fontaine, Pat Mayhew, Liz Thompson, Barbara Waters, Carol Chase, Fred Emigh, Pippa Hall, Laura Kranis, Jaime Prransky, Elka Schumann, Moira Smiley
Larry Gordon, Andy Davis, Peter Amidon, Tony Barrand, Margaret Dale Barrand, Liz Thompson, Mary Alice Amidon, Carole Moody Crompton
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